If you’re wondering why so many utilities are interested in microgrids, check the weather.
Ninety-four percent of utility CEOS recently surveyed on five continents said severe weather has hurt their operations. And nearly as many — 89 percent — said they see a global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions vital to their business success.
The Global Electricity Initiative (GEI), which prepared the survey, presented the findings at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) underway in Paris. The GEI is led by the World Energy Council and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The group includes countries that account for more than 80 percent of global installed generation capacity.
The survey also found that:
- Forty percent of utility CEOs need a price over $100 per ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to make them change their business model
- Nearly two thirds of utility CEOs agree that the CO2 emissions price should be determined globally and by the market, whereas the other third would prefer a price introduced by mandatory fiscal measures on a national level
- 72 percent of utility companies have already introduced voluntary measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions
- Utilities rank access to supply and security among their highest business priorities
More survey details are available here.
In Africa, Enel Green Power and Powerhive plan to invest $12 million to build and operate remote microgrids in 100 villages in western Kenya.
The microgrids will provide energy for equipment and critical community services such as health clinics and schools. The model attempts to create a long-term, scalable energy service to meet community energy needs.
“Emerging markets will require major investments in off-grid energy access during the next decade, and this partnership – which combines Powerhive’s proven mini-grid solutions with Enel Green Power’s capacities as a market leading renewables company – is a blueprint for meeting that unserved energy demand,” said Powerhive CEO Chris Hornor.
Powerhive was the first private utility in the history of Kenya to obtain a concession to generate, distribute, and sell electricity to the Kenyan public.
Enel Green Power will provide 93 percent of the investment for the microgrids and Powerhive, seven percent.
Also in Africa, Pamoja Cleantech and Entrade intend to install 100 remote microgrids as part of a pilot project to bring carbon neutral power to 30,000 people and 15,000 farmers in Uganda who do not have reliable electricity.
Pamoja has participated in a test of micropower units that turn waste into energy to power microgrids 24/7 with minimum maintenance. After the success of the first two microgrids, the project will expand to 100 villages by the end of 2017, according to a news release by the companies.
The project will use Entrade’s bio-waste to power generators, which will be operated by the Pamoja engineering team. The system provides electricity and cooling as well as clean cooking fuels.
Entrade’s system will replace diesel generators and avoid methane emissions from decay of raw biomass. As a result, the microgrids are expected to decrease carbon dioxide by 150,000 tons by 2020.
The remote microgrids also are expected to reduce pre-mature deaths, especially among women and children, by providing clean cooking fuel. More than four million people die prematurely because of household air pollution caused by cooking with solid fuels. Half of the deaths are among children under age five, who contract pneumonia caused by inhaling soot, according to the World Health Organization.
The companies say that the remote microgrids lay the ground work for a circular economy. Biomass mixed with regionally available waste becomes a clean fuel for power generation and cooking. The ash produced in the process improves the soil for crop production.
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